Amish Schoolhouse Demolished Before Dawn

The Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pa., where a gunman shot 10 girls last week, killing five of them, is demolished by private contractors before dawn Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006 AP

Workers with machines moved in before dawn Thursday and demolished the one-room Amish schoolhouse where a gunman fatally shot five girls and injured five others.

Floodlights lit the area, fire police closed the road, and heavy equipment tore down the roof and walls, reports Courtney Monie of CBS affiliate WHP-TV.

Though known for constructing buildings without the aid of modern technology, the Amish relied on an outside demolition crew with heavy machinery to bring closure to the painful chapter in their peaceful community.

Construction lights glared in the pre-dawn mist as an excavator began removing the porch of the school about 4:45 a.m., and heavy equipment knocked down the bell tower and toppled the walls within a few minutes.

The quaint schoolhouse had been boarded up since the Oct. 2 shootings, with schooling moved to a nearby farm. The Amish hoped to bring some resolution to the tragedy by razing the schoolhouse and leaving in its place a quiet pasture.

Moments after the building was torn down, backhoes began scooping the rubble into dump trucks, which started hauling it away to a landfill. All of the debris had been removed from the site by 7:30 a.m., leaving just a bare, muddy patch of earth.

The families say eliminating this reminder of the tragedy serves as closure for them, reports Monie.

"I think the Amish leaders made the right decision," Mike Hart, a spokesman for the Bart Fire Company, said as loaders lifted debris into dump trucks to be hauled away.

A group of 20 to 30 people, most of them Amish, gathered nearby to watch as the schoolhouse was leveled. "It seems this is a type of closure for them," Hart said.

The destruction of the West Nickel Mines Amish School came a week after the solemn funerals of four of the five girls killed by gunman Charles Carl Roberts VI. Roberts came armed with a shotgun, rifle, handgun and a stun gun and killed himself after shooting the girls.

The five girls wounded in the Oct. 2 shooting are still believed to be hospitalized. The hospitals are no longer providing any information about the patients at the request of their families.

Hart had said previously that classes were expected to resume this week at a makeshift schoolhouse in a garage on an Amish farm in the Nickel Mines area.
  • Dan Collins

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